Our recent house move has left me feeling confused about what I want from a place to call home. I never saw myself as a big city woman and became overwhelmed when I fell into that situation. Anytime I found myself crushed against tube train doors, I would remind myself that this wouldn't be for too long and that we would soon be in our pretty countryside home with a gorgeous garden and Wisteria Lane-style neighbours (but with less murder!). Since we've had a taste of the quieter life, I have started to remember the benefits of London living and am now stuck in a to and fro of where to settle. Is there a perfect in-between? And will we be able to afford this ideal location?
Growing up in Oxford we had a mix of quiet streets with nice little houses and a quick bus ride to shopping days in the city centre. It's only now that I appreciate how beautiful it is, walking along all the cobblestones, looking up at buildings that have stood for hundreds of years. As a teen, I remember knowing that I didn't plan to stay or to settle down here as it felt all too familiar. I wanted something bigger, not knowing quite what or quite how big.
At the age of 18, I moved to London with my other half. You can read all about this in my last post here. When I thought 'big' I didn't ever imagine I would take such a leap this young. It was during this time that I noticed a lot of things worsen, that had been hidden in the background before. I became a lot more anxious and struggled with leaving the house. I would force myself out for commitments like college and then work but would happily avoid doing anything else on my own. I do want to point out that we didn't live in a rough area and on paper there was very little to be afraid of, but logic or reason doesn't cut through anxiety very successfully. We lived in three different flats during our time in the city and managed to find nicer places with each move. We stayed within the same area and over time this became more familiar to me. For all its madness and intensity, city living has given me some amazing opportunities and allowed me to try out many new things to help figure out what I want to do as a career.
If you've been following us on our journey so far, you will know that we have recently moved to Hampshire. For the same rental budget of our London flat we found that we could have a whole house to ourselves. This has been the most lovely break from the busy London lifestyle and I think we have become even closer as a couple. Having the space to not feel that you're constantly stepping on a flatmate's toes has been the best move for us. However, there are a few adjustments that come with living further out. There are fewer job opportunities, especially in the creative fields, which has made it hard to drop straight into a normal day to day life. I also don't drive which makes getting around that much harder...I never thought that I would miss the tube! Then there is the obvious difference in access to entertainment. We are rather missing the Deliveroo option of an evening and our choice of favourite restaurants to visit. But, is it worth missing out on these little things for a less manic atmosphere?
This stop won't be a forever for us and I still don't yet know where we'll land, but moving around has meant that we've tested lots of elements that we do and don't like ready for the future. What we do know is that we want to be somewhere with a little more life than where we are now, with just enough access to the outside world. We don't need Oxford Street on our doorstep but it would be nice to step up our social life again. We also don't want to stray too far from family, whilst also definitely not living next door. I also plan to learn to drive in the fairly near future to help me get the best of both worlds (and to accommodate the future children that won't be allowed in my other half's much loved cars). For now, we will continue to trial and error our way through the next couple of years. There are set things that we want to happen in our future and the aim is that these things will fit in with whatever comes our way.